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Posted: February 1, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Public invited to offer opinions of retail needs, wants

You’ve shared your thoughts about Newton County’s lack of shopping and dining options for years with friends and on Facebook, but now is your chance to finally tell someone who can do something about it.

Dave Bernd, the county’s new commercial recruiter, is hosting a public information meeting to share the results of the county’s latest retail study and get public feedback; the meeting is at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13 at The Center for Community Preservation and Planning, 2104 Washington St. SW, Covington.

Bernd will present the study -– a two-page overview of which can be seen at CovNews.com – and let attendees ask questions and then engage in a brainstorming session.

"I want to get the input of everybody going forward, including the challenges and where their heads (are) at (on the issue). I want to have a good roundtable discussion," Bernd said Saturday.

The latest retail study, developed by third-party contractor Marketek, is showing the county loses a potential $494.1 million in retail sales every year to businesses beyond its borders. That number has actually declined from studies in recent years, which estimated the county lost $750 million recently, but it shows the county still has a large void to fill.

Auto parts and dealers, general merchandise (department stores), apparel and accessories, restaurants and electronics, and appliances were the biggest areas of need, according to the study.

See the box that accompanies this article for the full breakdown. For more on the study, read the article "Newton County has big retail plans" at CovNews.com.

 Deals in the works

While Bernd couldn’t go into specifics, he said there are some prominent retail businesses taking a serious look at area shopping centers with vacancies.

The Covington Corners shopping center at the corner of Elm Street and U.S. Highway 278 has vacant space that most recently held Save-a-Lot grocery, while the Martin’s Crossing center, which houses Ingles, still has vacant room left from when Walmart anchored it.

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